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Burton Memorial Tower at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg / Getty

At a time technologists are stressing that, to stay employed, workers need to keep learning their whole lives, the graduate business school at the University of Michigan is offering alumni lifetime rights to return for refresher classes for free.

Quick take: The idea of the "open loop university," as it's called, was conceived two years ago at Stanford University. Rather than a traditional degree consisting of four consecutive years after high school, students can accumulate six years of Stanford classes as it suits them and their career throughout their lives.

  • That's different from Michigan, where MBA grads can return for any executive-level program course tuition free as long as they live. "It's a lifetime partnership between the university and the person. We can help them retool before their job is destroyed," Scott DeRue, dean of the business school, tells Axios.
  • "I worry about people in their 40s and 50s," DeRue said. "We've tooled these folks with certain capabilities. Re-tooling isn't easy."

Bottom line: Open-loop seems likely to become a trend in order to cope with the massive disruption of changing technology, demographics and globalization. "Universities are thinking how they can serve people across their lifetime as the future of work evolves," DeRue said.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.